It began with a daydream while working at my cubicle, listening to an audiobook: “Hey!” I thought. “I can do this stuff. I can make my own audiobook! from some of my best short stories. I can sell it through the distribution channels that indie musicians are already using. Each story could be purchased a la carte on iTunes and Amazon MP3 just as if they were songs on an album.”
Never comfortable with half-measures, I resigned my engineering job in Virginia and moved back into a studio apartment in Austin, Texas. I would write most of the new material once I got there.
After arriving at the apartment and moving my stuff in, several sleepless nights followed. I can remember one evening in particular where I put my head to rest for the night and, just as I was getting to sleep, a mischievous voice, deep within my head, whispered to me softly, “Don’t choke,” and this seemed to mysteriously cause me to jump out of bed gagging and gasping for breath. The mind can play funny tricks.
So, the first step was to write the actual stories. And this wasn’t so hard. I had been keeping a notebook full of ideas and had begun writing one of the longer tales, Goodbye, My Television, in the motels I stopped at while traveling. The stories needed to be new and modern – things not available elsewhere. So I went to a popular bookstore in Austin and asked a respectable clerk, “Can you show me some of your short story collections about how technology affects our modern lifestyles?” * blank stare, a recommendation for a well-known nonfiction periodical * I had found the collection’s overarching theme.
While writing, I knew I had to simultaneously get up-to-speed with the recording aspects of the production. I threw myself at the mercy of the knowledgeable sale staff of several Guitar Centers and local music stores who helped me pick out a modestly priced yet well performing condenser microphone, a music stand, a popper-stopper (to avoid those annoying mouth smacking sounds), a vibration isolator, headphones, and (eventually) a pair of reference speakers for mixing and mastering. All this was cheaper than you might imagine (around $800 dollars since I already had Audacity and Garageband as my digital processing software).
Before the actual recording sessions could take place (in my miniature walk-in closet) I needed some practice recording and performing story narrations. I studied the Youtube videos of famous audiobook voice talent to reverse engineer their setups along with making some strategic use of my library card. (Of course, anything can be learned these days with the aid of Youtube and a library card). But practice was still needed. This was obtained through posting stories to my similarly titled podcast, Not from Concentrate.
The recording sessions of the album took me about three weeks. Some stories I could get through in a day, others took several days. It was a weird feeling spending most of my days inside a closet, then going to sleep and looking at the door to said closet, thinking, “I’m actually going back inside there again, tomorrow.” It was a somewhat stressful process in which I think I flirted with contracting agoraphobia and yet as it neared completion I somehow didn’t want it to end. There was a postpartum depression coming just around the corner. I began to revel in the idea of being such a martyr for my muse. What would I do with myself once it was through!? I had to push myself to finish strong and move on to the mixing and mastering portions. But what were mixing and mastering, I wondered? I had to go back to the library and Youtube to look that stuff up, also.
At last the audiobook was finished and uploaded to iTunes, Amazon MP3 and all the other outlets. What price should I set? How about free? At least until I give away a couple hundred albums to get the word out, I thought.
Which brings us to the present. It’s funny how I wrote and recorded Not from Concentrate in central Texas and the first two reviewers have been in Alaska and New Jersey. That’s the interconnectivity of the modern world for you.
Here’s what some of the reviewers are saying:
“This audiobook was narrated by the author and he did a good job telling the stories. Because he is the one that wrote the stories, he knew just where to put the emphasis and pauses so the stories would read the way they were meant to be read.” ~ Alaskan Bookie
“‘Microcosmic Romance’- CHERRYWOOD NIPPLES! This was a hilarious story, akin to a grown up Dr. Seuss book. I definitely think this was all the more funny having listened to it, rather than reading it in print.” ~ Justin – Literary Adventures from the Jersey Shore
And here’s a link to where the album can be downloaded, free of charge, for a limited time: